Prosecutor keeps 6 year sentence request for suspended speaker as trial ends

Others accused in corruption case have proposed convictions lowered after deal

The suspended parliament speaker, Laura Borràs, testifying during her corruption trial
The suspended parliament speaker, Laura Borràs, testifying during her corruption trial / Pol Solà

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

March 1, 2023 10:55 AM

March 1, 2023 07:33 PM

The public prosecutor has kept its 6-year prison sentence request for the suspended Catalan parliament speaker, Laura Borràs, during her corruption trial.

On Wednesday, the day the trial came to an end, the prosecutor also proposed disqualifying her from public office for 21 years and fining her €144,000 for the crimes of breach of official duty and false statements.

Yet, the prosecutors lowered their requests for the other two defendants in the trial. After reaching a deal with them in exchange for their confession, they are now facing significantly lower sentences.

Borràs is accused of organizing a scheme between 2013 and 2017 that included splitting contracts to avoid public tenders, in order to allocate work worth €330,000 to a friend of hers, Isaías Herrero, during her time as director for the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC), a public institution aiming to boost reading and literature.

At the time, public contracts in Catalonia of over €18,000 had to be put to tender, and at least three quotes had to be considered before allocating contracts worth less than €18,000 without tender.

'We created fake quotations'

The corruption trial is focused on 18 minor contracts awarded to Isaías Herrero, an IT expert who last week confessed to faking quotes under Borràs's orders.

"We would hand out three different quotes for each contract, and we would write them so there would be two quotes accompanying the quote that we knew would end up being accepted, so we created fake quotations,"  Herrero said to the judge on February 20.

Yet, the parliament speaker denied all charges while sitting in the dock.

Indeed, she said the contracts awarded were processed without objections by the institute's administrative heads and accepted by auditors at the Department of Culture. 

She also argued that she was a victim of "political persecution." 


When giving her closing statement on Wednesday, Borràs argued that the case had only been brought against her to "harm" her "personally and politically."

Sentences lowered for the other two defendants

While the parliament speaker, who is now suspended until the outcome of the case, will still face the 6-year prison sentence the prosecutor initially put forward, on Wednesday Herrero saw his 6-year requested sentence lowered to 2 years behind bars, 6 years and 4 months of disqualification, and a €2,100 fine, down from €72,000.

The other individual accused in the case, a businessman called Andreu Pujol, also confessed that he was aware that the contracts were split up to "violate the public tender legislation." 

His requested sentence was lowered from 3 years to 14 months, 4 years and 3 months of disqualification, and a €2,250 fine, down from €30,000.

During the last session of the trial, while Herrero and Pujol said they agreed with their requested sentences, Borràs' lawyers did not and demanded her acquittal once more.

Borràs' lawyer: From 'go get 'em' to 'go get her' 

Borràs lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, suggested the investigation violated several of his client's fundamental rights

"We have gone from 'go get 'em' to 'go get her', he said, drawing parallels with anti-Catalan sentiment voiced, for example, when Spanish police officers traveled to Catalonia in the run-up to the 2017 independence referendum. 

Boye claimed that the investigation only took place because of Borràs' political status

"First you have to investigate the what and then the who; but here it has been done the other way around, first the who and then the what," he said.  

Boye began his remarks by saying that the head of the court, Jesús María Barrientos, is not an impartial judge and it has been proven, Boye claimed, before and during the hearing. 

The lawyer also cast doubt on the veracity of the testimonies of Borràs former colleagues at ILC, even saying: "Since Nuremberg, there haven't been so many people who said they were following orders."  

In his final remarks, Boye asked the court not to sentence Borràs based on their sympathy or antipathy towards her, but on the law and evidence